* Posts by Herbert Meyer

189 publicly visible posts • joined 31 May 2007


Now that Trump is useless to Zuckerberg, ex-president is exiled from Facebook for two years, possibly indefinitely

Herbert Meyer

Lifetime ban

I banned myself from FB years ago, but I had to sign up again recently because my City was using FB to hold public meetings because of the pandemic. The City has removed the ban on public meetings, I will attend a meeting middle of the month, and come home and remove myself from FB again.

I prefer my lies the old fashioned way, face to face. That way, I can correct the speaker as vigorously as needed. Sometime a size 13 in the (bleep) is appropriate. Can't do that on FB.

Wyoming powers ahead with Bill Gates-backed sodium-cooled nuclear generation plant

Herbert Meyer

Re: remember ?

And if you are going to the store, pick up a tin of powdered eggs and some candles. I will go into the attic and get out my old "Playboy" magazines, We will be doing it on paper for a while.

Herbert Meyer

remember ?

Gates last technological innovation was Windows. A fission reactor as reliable and safe as Windows. I will be in the basement, with a few rolls of duct tape. And a case of spam.

Larry Ellison says he's not following Oracle to Texas, prefers his private Hawaii pad

Herbert Meyer

Bond villain ?

Larry is preparing for his new role as a Bond villain. Charlie Stross had a villain named "Ellis Billington" in one of his novels.

I work therefore I ache: Logitech aims to ease WFH pains with Ergo M575 trackball mouse

Herbert Meyer

left handed

To reduce shoulder strain on a right arm with an old injury, I use a Left Handed trackball from Elecom. Perhaps I am less right handed than most, but I find it very comfortable. It is thumb operated, the mirror image of the Logitech.

Before I quit smoking, I would somehow manage a cig, a pencil, and a mouse or trackball with my right hand, simultaneously. I should have applied those skills to dealing cards. I would be a poker champ. Or dead.

Remember when the keyboard was the computer? You can now relive those heady days with the Raspberry Pi 400

Herbert Meyer

where is the coin slot ?

Rasp Pi has a python coding lesson called "Code the Classics" that is old fashioned arcade games in source form. I am very fond of Myriapod, a Centipede game. So I need a Rasp 400, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a stack of quarters, and it is 1977 again.

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

Herbert Meyer

Too many levels of indent ?

I thought that was why the subroutine was invented.

Smack that tab key, print it out, run a vertical rule down the listing at the tab stops, Gazinga !

There is a subroutine to the right of the rule. Just check the variable cross reference for an argument list.

Back to the left margin in a separate source deck.

Herbert Meyer

not the terminal, the punch card

The reason for the 80 column limit is not the terminal screen size but the 80 column punch card. If you are old enough the phrase "Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate" means something to you.

It was actually a 72 column limit, because the last 8 positions were for sequence numbers. After you dropped a card deck once, you found out that if you had punched the sequence numbers, like you were supposed to, you could run the mixed up cards through the mechanical sorter (or look at the numbers and sort by hand).

Chicago: Why I just grin like a dork... It's my kind of Bork

Herbert Meyer

Re: My Kinda Town!

When I was going to College in Chicago, I had a job next to the CTA bus garage at Foster and Kedzie, on the North Side, in the River North neighborhood . After the Morning Rush Hour, many buses would go back to the garage to wait for the Afternoon Rush Hour, and would put up (it was a paper roll, not an electronic sign) Foster and Kedzie on the destination sign on the front of the bus. But they would not stop and pickup passengers on the trip in. I would wave and shout "I want to goto Foster and Kedzie". No luck.

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

Herbert Meyer

examining picture carefully

I look at the picture above the article carefully, I think I see a chart recorder. Chart recorders were not standard equipment for digital computers, so I suspect we are looking at a picture of an analog computer. Which did not run Cobol. Just Laplace Transforms. I cannot read the nameplate on the left end of the boxes, but it might say "Pace".

Apple programs Siri to not bother its pretty little head with questions about feminism

Herbert Meyer

political ?

Siri: Is Apple a harmful monopoly that should be broken up ?

Fantastic Mr Fox? Not when he sh*ts on your lawn, kids' trampoline and your soul

Herbert Meyer

watcher the cat

I had a fearless cat, named Watcher, who chased foxes out of our yard. The foxes would scream at him "I am a dangerous wild animal" and he would quietly reply "I am a badass cat", and ignore their displays of ferocity. A neighbor reported a pair of foxes tricked him, one distracting him, and the other circling around behind him. Watcher also killed snakes, and brought them home to share.

Sorry, Linux. We know you want to be popular, but cyber-crooks are all about Microsoft for now

Herbert Meyer

Re: linux users are worthless

And retired programmers who used to write windows software, and found out what a stinking pesthole the windows API is. Real butchers do not eat sausage. Or dog food.

Herbert Meyer

linux users are worthless

Hacker criminals do not target linux because linux users are broke hipsters with no money to steal. And beardy weirdos who hate capitalism. No profit in it.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

Herbert Meyer

no such thing as an analog watch.

since all MECHANICAL clocks and watches use an escapement, they are essentially digital, counting ticks. Analog clocks would be water clocks or high precision candles. Or a sundial. I do not think any of them are suitable for wearing on the wrist or carrying in the pocket.

They say software will eat the world. Here are some software bugs that took a stab at it

Herbert Meyer

Software kills

Last month, 132 people died because the autopilot on a Boeing aircraft overrode the pilot, trying to prevent the plane from stalling. The plane was not stalling, the pilot and copilot died trying to disengage the autopilot, and take control of the aircraft. Boeing has blamed the crew for not reading a tech bulletin about this software feature.

Anyone who thinks they are "flying" a modern airplane is fooling themselves, they are merely making suggestions to the control system. Soon, automobiles will be the same.

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

Herbert Meyer

Re: Why use a revision control system?

Useful things like diff are available. Even (when there are multiple administrators) who made the changes in question.

Linux has a system called etckeeper that puts /etc under git version control. With some additional hooks that understand the dnf/apt upgrade process. Often dnf/apt is what broke it, not me.

Oracle, for one, says we'll welcome our new robot overlords: '90%' of you will obey an AI bot

Herbert Meyer

Since any Oracle employee...

Has been following orders from Larry Ellison, they are used to being lead by an arrogant authoritarian psychopath. Not much different than an evil AI.

Latest from the coming AI robot apocalypse: we're going to be fine

Herbert Meyer


"An artificial intelligence machine won't want to become a person," argued Reza Zadeh, the CEO of Matroid. "It will be content to serve customers."

*Thunk* No worries, the UPS should spin up. Oh cool, it's in bypass mode

Herbert Meyer

In the old bank, in the vault

I was a customer of a bank in suburban Chicago, and I went into the bank, a new building with lots of glass, and found the power was off, and the tellers were using pen and paper and calculators to process transactions.

I went home, called my mother in law, who had just retired from the bank, and asked her why they did not have a UPS. She said they did, a large diesel, that was in a crate in the vault in the old bank building. It was too large to move through the basement hallway into its planned location. It fit the elevator and the UPS room.

They later excavated a hole in the parking lot, cut the foundation wall, and put it in sideways.

Vatican sets up dedicated exorcism training course

Herbert Meyer

Professional not required

The Anglicans publish the Exorcism Rite in the Book of Common Prayer, to encourage Do-it-yourselfers.

A print button? Mmkay. Let's explore WHY you need me to add that

Herbert Meyer

I did not miss it

I have been using the Atom editor for several months before I wanted to print something, then I found out there was no Print... anywhere in the thing. After a bit of head scratching, I figured out I could export the code to Html, all pretty printed, and print the html with der bruiser.

Having actually written software that had to print, I can see the virtue in this. GUI means taking the whatever, rasterizing it, drawing it in a device context (yes, it was windows), and then handing that DC to the printer, hooking into the standard printer dialogs, wiring up a callback to cancel printing, and vast amounts of other fiddly code. Avoiding it would have saved months, and lotsa grief from customers with weird printers.

We are 40 years into the Paperless Office. About damn time to chop off the vestigial printers. And with the printers go the shredders and scanners and faxes and record storage boxes. Pile them up behind the building, pour kerosene on it, apply a match.

Kentucky gov: Violent video games, not guns, to blame for Florida school massacre

Herbert Meyer

the answer

Eventually Miss Mercer or DeVos or one of the other droids will say that the way to prevent School Shootings is Home Schooling. You should not herd children together into Public School Target Zones, but keep them safe at home. Presumably a well armed, Christian home.

Don't panic... but our fragile world is drifting away from the Sun

Herbert Meyer

Mr. Einstein and Gravitational Radiation

Excuse me, did not a fella with a weird non-haircut say that two masses in orbit about each other were accelerating, and would therefore radiate gravitational waves, releasing energy ? How would that change the orbit ?

Boffins use inkjets to print explosives

Herbert Meyer

instead of a Suicide Vest

They will have a Suicide Tee Shirt. With graphics.

Skynet it ain't: Deep learning will not evolve into true AI, says boffin

Herbert Meyer

old result

Minsky and Papert wrote a book about this, a long time ago:


Nobody read or understood it then.

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Herbert Meyer

Poor service guy

We had a CadCam system that ran on a Nova6 mini, with some IBM 3350 removable disk packs, similar to this story. An air conditioner service guy was checking for refrigerant leaks with a bottle of soapy water in a squeeze bottle, which would produce bubbles when applied to a leaky refrigerant line.

He left the bottle sitting on top of a convenient washing machine size disk box, without knowing the box quivered when the disks seeked. A few minutes later, the bottle fell over, spilling on the removable cover, and dripping into the disk mechanism. A few minutes after that the CadCam crashed, with disk errors.

Unbelievably, removing the disk pack, drying out the mechanism, and replacing with a recent backup disk pack worked.

Stick to the script, kiddies: Some dos and don'ts for the workplace

Herbert Meyer

read old warnings, change word

Re-read all your old warnings about macros, change the word "macro" to "script".

More than half of GitHub is duplicate code, researchers find

Herbert Meyer

creativity ?

All these yoofs got through school by copying each other's work. Continues into their "work". I refuse to refer to them as "adults",

Why being 'boring' is a university AI spinout's route to success

Herbert Meyer

Stamp Collector's fallacy

If I get one more good piece, this pile of dross will be worth something.

This article has been deleted

Herbert Meyer


Used to have tits on the mermaid on their logo. The coffee business never recovered.

Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Herbert Meyer

Re: there is a science fiction story about this ...

That sounds like it. I have not been able to find a copy of the text. Roald Dahl, huh ? Respectable, not at all a hack.

Herbert Meyer

there is a science fiction story about this ...

Which I will find sometime later. Back from the '50s or '60s.

Basic thesis is that genre fiction is stereotyped, and selecting among the variations will generate something as good as the hack writers output, at lower cost. Consequence is starving writers with starving families.

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

Herbert Meyer

Re: Pesky base 60 trigonometry is not Babylonian?

No, they remembered the divisor table. 60 was chosen because it has lotsa useful divisors - 2,3,4,5,6,10,12,15,20,30.

Herbert Meyer

everybody knows

The proper way to measure angles is in radians, not degrees. Since any measure is an approximation, "exact" divisors are a fiction. So an irrational measure is appropriate. Besides, any use in mechanics is going to involve a moment, so the pi factor will appear quickly.

Confessions of an ebook eater

Herbert Meyer

Re: O'Really ?

True C did not get complex. It lives in a simple world of PDP's and 3B's, Ascii mini's. This world was a much simpler place. It was temporarily reborn with the 8-bit IBM PC.

Then MicroSoft produced their alleged "C" compiler. I know, for a fact, that anything written with this abomination will fail next year, when the C epoch overflows to leftmost bit. The product of this abomination will think that time has become negative, with unpredictable results.

I know, that is not the compiler's fault, but the library that MS copied from somewhere or the other.

I plan on being dead in 2038 when the C epoch overflows completely. If anybody defrosts me to fix old code, I will claim brain damage.

Herbert Meyer

O'Really ?

I have, in the basement, a bookcase full of O'Reilly titles, with the aminals on de cover. I am waiting for them to become valuable collectables to Millennial geeks. They strike me as suckers, who will buy anything.

The Manning MEEP I am waiting for is Learn Haskell. It has been retitled before completion, but I am still hoping it will reveal the Secret Meaning of Monad. I was working thru the prelim PDF, but I had to back up to chapter 4 when I forgot what currying was.

Actually, books are good. I taught myself "C" from the White Book, as did all the true C programmers. It was a very rare book that was written as a reference, but somehow also served as a teaching tool.

'Help! I'm stuck in this ATM,' writes poor bloke on a scribbled note

Herbert Meyer

Re: Damn!

Classic science fiction:


O Rly? O'Reilly exits direct book sales

Herbert Meyer

bookcase in the basement

I have a bookcase in the basement full of O'Reilly. Perhaps the used dead tree business will become profitable. I will consult the underware Gnomes.

HMS Windows XP: Britain's newest warship running Swiss Cheese OS

Herbert Meyer

Brings new meaning...

...To the Blue Screen of Death.

At the feet of the Great Monad, or, How the functional programming craze plays out

Herbert Meyer

it's a monad

That's why I/O is a monad. As well as everything else inconvenient.

Herbert Meyer

Re: Been there, done that

No, that is why you punch sequence numbers in columns 73-80 of the cards. The sequence numbers should increment by 10, to allow insertions between lines without re-sequencing.

If you look hard enough in the back of the computer room, there is an old electromechanical sorter, with 10 output bins, and you know how to program it (by wiring a punchboard) to perform a radix sort, most significant column first.

And if you are an honor student, you can write a simple program for the computer to punch the numbers for you. If you are a total genius, you can program the 029 keypunch to do it.

As Trump signs away Americans' digital privacy, it's time to bring out the BS detector

Herbert Meyer

make up a "Bullshit" rubber stamp

Apply it to anything out of TrumpLand.

Toshiba's nuclear power plant business runs out of steam

Herbert Meyer

Nope, it's at Pantex

The Pantex bunkers near Amarillo are full of old Plutonium pits, removed from retired and obsolete weapons. Now, Tritium is another matter.

FBI let alleged pedo walk free rather than explain how they snared him

Herbert Meyer

depends on which side of the Atlantic

In the US, it is usually pedo. This is a US case.

Don't panic, but a 'computer error' cut the brakes on a San Francisco bus this week

Herbert Meyer

Re: Whaaat?

Trolley buses, in common with electric rail cars, only use overhead or third rail power for the traction motors. The general power for systems is supplied by batteries, charged by wheel generators that only work when the vehicle is moving. So a completely flat battery is a big deal. The car must be towed or pushed (or jumped, a very dangerous operation) to recharge batteries enough to power systems up.

Zilog reveals very, very distant heir to the Z80 empire

Herbert Meyer

z80 and ti83

The archaic, obsolete and expensive TI83 your American High School student child is required to buy (and loose, 3 weeks later) is powered by a Z80.

The student is required to buy this clunk because it is approved for use on the SAT exam. Any more advanced calculator can be used to cheat on the exam, by storing answers, or communicating with the net or confederates.

The TI83 can, of course, be used to cheat, but requires a higher level of skill. Anyone able to cheat with it would score well on the test without it.

FBI won't jail future US president over private email server

Herbert Meyer

burn the witch !

Burn the witch Hillary ! We have years of this to look forward to.

Kremlin wants to shoot the Messenger, and WhatsApp to boot

Herbert Meyer

Trojan horse

If this is going to work, only Russian made hardware and software will be allowed in Russia. So this is also a Trojan Horse for Industrial Protectionism

Workers rejoice! Marx’s vision will become reality, argues SAP veep

Herbert Meyer

Londoners report ?

Have any of you Londoners noticed a rumbling from Marx's grave ?